I can’t tell you how exhausted I was when I got home yesterday. Traveling meant about five hours of sleep in the forty-eight leading to last evening’s sleep.
Telling a client about burpees and Sidchas recently, when I mentioned doing them when tired, drunk, or otherwise discouraged, he asked, “wait, you do them then too?”, implying that for a long-term activity, you don’t have to be a stickler for rules every time. After all, how much does one instance matter out of many?
On the contrary, the value of the combination of the activity being self-imposed, challenging, and daily arises when faced with doing them when you don’t want to. Anyone can do easy things, even some challenging things. Any one can captain a ship in calm weather.
Any burpee develops fitness. That’s the least of their value. Staying true to yourself in the face of challenge develops integrity, dedication, and discipline. Those are harder to come by than mere fitness. In fact, with them, fitness comes easy to those who want it. You want a ship captain who can handle the ship when the winds gust the water white.
Martha Graham, the great dancer, often called the Picasso of dance, said it best in my opinion:
The dancer is realistic. His craft teaches him to be. Either the foot is pointed or it is not. No amount of dreaming will point it for you. This requires discipline, not drill, not something imposed from without, but discipline imposed by you yourself upon yourself.
Your goal is freedom. But freedom may only be achieved through discipline. In the studio you learn to conform, to submit yourself to the demands of your craft, so that you may finally be free.
Integrity, like form in dance or any activity, doesn’t come from hoping or dreaming. It comes from action you impose on yourself and rehearse and rehearse and rehearse. The regular-day Sidchas may develop skill and strength, but in my experience, their greatest value is in preparing you for the challenging times.
Yesterday evening I almost convinced myself not to do my burpees. I didn’t want to and could come up with excuses not to. The feeling not to is so strong, what with empathy gaps and how the mind convinces you to save energy. Not that doing them is a big challenge, but I still did them. The value in doing them may never come, but if it does, it will be when a lot is on the line, I would otherwise lose my cool, and instead I stay calm from experience handling challenges, and get the job done.
Read my weekly newsletter
On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees